Philosophy of Management

Volume 12, Issue 2, 2013

African Philosophy of Management

Henk J. van Rinsum, Jan Boessenkool
Pages 41-55

Decolonising African Management
Okot p’Bitek and the Paradoxes of African Management

In this article we argue that ideas about management are led by cognitive frameworks rooted in cultural, including intellectual, traditions. African management is part of ambiguous mental concepts. African management results from a quest for an essentialist authenticity in the framework of decolonisation. Through analysing the life and work of the Ugandan African nationalist, poet and anthropologist Okot p’Bitek (1931–1982), we argue that the concept of double consciousness as defined by W. E. B. Du Bois (1868–1963) can be used as a strategy to analyse the ambiguous nature of management in Africa. Generally speaking, double or, even better, multiple consciousness could serve as an instrument of any manager (and scholar), both in Africa and outside Africa, avoiding the danger of essentialism. If truth be told, Okot p’Bitek was the true pioneer of conceptual decolonization in African philosophy. -- Kwasi Wiredu It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings…. This, then, is the end of his striving: to be a co-worker in the kingdom of culture… -- W. E. B. Du Bois